Saturday, December 31, 2011
1. Silly facial hair and kids who don't dance abound at this place. And in this land of vans and skinny jeans, I heard one guy actually say to his friends, "Don't you see him over there? He's the guy in plaid." It was just too much like trying to find somebody at a Dead show in a tie-dye to not get a good giggle out of it.
2. Then last night, I noticed that the guy holding up the wall next to Biscodo was not looking too hot, even though he continued to pull on his PBR. I couldn't tell if he was on the verge of an emotional or phsyical breakdown, but he was definitely not well. I nudged Dr. Friendly, who had joined our party, but he declared that we did not need to intervene until (if) the guy hit the floor. I was considering getting the dude a glass of water and encouraging him to lay off the beer but his friend appeared and seemed to talk him back into some less pained state so I let it go. Five minutes later, when the bands were changing over and Biscodo and Dr. Friendly had toddled off to the bar, this guy, apparently feeling very much better, started to chat me up.... as if nothing had happened. Okay.... I can play along:
"So, what's your name?"
"Georgina" (said very clearly)
"No (laughing), really, what's your name?"
"Yeah... well that's really my name and now I'm really going to go talk to someone else" (Thanks for being near by, Matt!)
Yeesh. Dude, lay off the... whatever the hell it was you were on last night.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
But you people have a role in this, too. As I sat in the bar the other night, chatting with someone who was an agreeable sort, the right (enough) age, and drinking good beer, I found myself writing this person off because of what you, my already-established, dear-to-me (yet somewhat flawed) social circle would think. Oh, not like you would tell me this person was inappropriate (see qualifying factors named above) or evil, but there was a style choice in the personal appearance of this candidate that would not have escaped notice, comment, and probably some mild ridicule. In other words, there are now too many voices in my head (mine and yours) telling me to not even bother. If I never make a new friend again, I’m blaming you, okay?
Saturday, November 26, 2011
While I felt like the ingredients were good, the quality of the preparation varied (too) greatly and several of the weeks the quantity was below what I expected. Only a couple of the dishes were true stinkers, but then only a couple of the dishes were outstanding. Most were best categorized as "okay" or "eh." It was frustrating to see some clear errors -- like fried rice made with hot rice instead of chilled, so it just mushed or sushi were the rice had no stickiness and the rolls were so loose that they disintegrated when you picked them up. The spice levels needed to go up on virtually all the dishes and several others just needed to cook longer in order for the flavors to come together. Probably their strongest category was salad dressings -- the Asian one, in particular, was excellent. But dressing just can't carry them in my book.
One benefit of having tried this experiment was that it gave the kids a new perspective on my cooking. They are used to my food and have taken it for granted, but now they know: I'm actually a decent cook. Now, if I only can use that to get them to help more in the kitchen...
Sunday, November 6, 2011
A few weeks ago I joined up with a few friends to create a little experiment in urban farming. We threw some money into a hat (ok, really it was a paypal account) and bid on an empty lot in a tax foreclosure auction. Today we headed out to break ground and start planning. Most of us, like myself, won't be doing the farming ourselves, but a bit of digging and layering of ingredients for the first bed was certainly in order. So, here we are, checking things out on a gorgeous fall morning.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
-announcements that she will have her earbuds in and be listening to her music on car rides longer than 10 minutes.
-a "S'up?" uttered in response to being introduced to new people.
-the radio in the living room being changed from NPR or CBC2 to some pop/dance music station at 95.5 that has song after song with identical rhythm tracks and callers screaming with excitement when the DJ answers their calls.
E catches a bus at 7:00am, so it is a bit dark in the mornings. Boone and I walk her to the bus stop and then continue our first morning ramble.
O leaves at the much more civilized time of 8:20am. I don't think he fully appreciates the pleasant walk we usually have -- with the sun up and all that... (and yes, Boone gets his second walk of the day with us).
I have pantry issues. As an overly-busy, somewhat experimental, very scattered, and rather impulsive cook, I have built up a pantry that is just too unwieldy for our current needs. I buy bulgar at the coop only to discover a week later that I already had bulgar, for example. I have four kinds of oatmeal on the shelves. There are more than a few outdated things in the back and, of course, there are those exotic condiments and such that snuck in somehow and are unlikely to ever be consumed by this family.
This problem is only going to get worse, I suspect, since I signed up for a prepared foods CSA for this fall. I'm going to be cooking even less often, which means I will be even more out of touch with what is going in the pantry (and the freezers, for that matter) and the turnover is likely to be even slower on the non-essential items.
So.... My goal this fall is to plan menus not from the food porn magazines that arrive at my house or the tempting recipes friends post, but based on at least one (significant) item from the pantry. And when I buy bulk items going forward (much of my shopping happens at the coop), I'm going to measure and buy just what I need for the one recipe I'm planning to make. I'll still keep a good supply of staples -- TJ's refried beans and pineapple salsa, cereal, pad thai fixins', peanut butter, chips, dried beans, and rice, and pasties and bread in freezer -- but focus will be on the things we consistently move through quickly.
As a bit of inspiration and accountability, I've included the "before" images!
Friday, August 26, 2011
"Why are you wearing a dress?"
"I'm going in to work today."
Scoff. (It is a kind of dramatic exhale...often accompanied by an eye roll.)
"I would never wear a dress to work. I probably wouldn't even wear a skirt."
"I'm not sure what you are objecting to, it is probably the easiest thing I could have put on... one piece, not even a zipper, and it is kind of like wearing pajamas to work, actually."
"Well, the colors are good, if only it was a shirt or something."
"Well you could wear leggings with it and call it a tunic..."
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
E has always loved cucumbers. We got a cold soup at Zingerman's once that was lovely and we recreated it at home. I made it again last night. The other kids swirling around the house wouldn't even try it, so E and I happily ate all of it yesterday and today.
Cold Cucumber Soup
4 medium cukes, peeled and seeded
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1-2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped
Whir up 3 of the cukes and buttermilk in the food processor and transfer to a large bowl. Grate the last cuke and add it along with all the other ingredients to the bowl. Stir well. Chill for a while.
Heirloom Tomato, Feta, and Mint salad
4-6 heirloom tomatoes (ideally a mixture of red, green, yellow, striped, black, etc.)
1/4 of fist-sized red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup of feta, crumbled
juice of 1 lemon
drizzle of olive oil
I like to cut my tomatoes into wedges. You can take the bite out of the onions by tossing them in very hot water for a minute. Gently mix everything together and let it sit/marinate for 30 minutes or so.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
The kids and I headed up to the UP for the end of July/early August. We celebrated Owen's 9th birthday with homemade apple pie and black walnut ice cream, spent a million hours on the beach and in warm Lake Michigan, saw a double rainbow, and went adventuring.
In Marquette we checked out the art fair, got turned away from Presque Isle park because an agitated young bull moose had taken up occupancy for the day, swam in Superior, and got ice cream at Jilbert's. The high point of the trip, however, was turning around to check out a sculpture garden called Lakenenland. The kids were asleep at this point, Emma rallied to take in a bit of it, but mostly, just my dad and I got to enjoy it. The park is free, whimsical, and political -- a damn fine combination, in my book. Plenty of social and political ideas inspired the art, but apparently the artist/owner of the land has had some run-ins with local authorities and for them, the artist had posted a "no trespassing" sign.
The other great adventure was a return trip to Grand Marais to climb the log slide/dune in Pictured Rocks and otherwise explore this beautiful area of beaches, dunes, rocks, and waterfalls.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I went with my dad again and we hung mostly with Kristen and Natalie (and Willa!). Along the way I ran into a couple of colleagues and a number of other friends and acquaintances.
My notes, as always, are not terribly useful and run from “um, no” and “gack” to “eh” to “bottle that!”
I was actually disappointed in the offerings of some of the big heavies in Michigan brewing. Founders didn’t bring much new/interesting, neither did Bell’s, Dragonmead, or Arcadia. Dark Horse made an interesting play for “top dog” by having booths in every tent. Their Smells Like Weed IPA was delicious – but then it always has been, but I didn’t see anything else in their vast offerings that I needed to try. I hope they don't get to too big for their britches…
Short’s brought many beers and I was delighted to see among them Dan’s Pink Skirt Ale (bottle it!). I’d had it once at Ashley’s a few years ago and couldn’t find it anywhere after that. It was hoppy and lovely (tho too much bitter finish for Dad).
In the “decent beer from places new to me” category, I’d put the Black IPA from Kalamazoo’s Old Peninsula’s Brewpub and Black Magic RyPA from Sparta’s Michigan Beer Cellar. We also had (surprisingly) pleasant selections from Benton Harbor’s The Livery but I failed to note what they were!
I am now realizing that I had several black IPAs. This is a trend that I can get into. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, Original Gravity from Milan also had a nice one.
And finally, what you really want to know… Worst Beer of the Evening! I declare a tie between the gluten free (I know, I know) Bees Knees Honey Ale from Old Hat Brewery in Lawton and Smokin’ Hatter Smoked IPA from New Holland. On the latter, I leave you with Natalie’s reaction: “Ick, why would you get that?” Ah, the adventure…
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The problem I am wading through now, however, falls into the category of "the important stuff" -- the stuff I don't want to fuck up, the stuff this job is really about. This problem falls under the heading of "faculty retention" and it is not going well. The faculty member has been lovely to deal with, both open and patient. The administration...well, let's just say xx xxx xxxxxxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxxx x xxxx (edited for job security purposes), everyone is working their own agendas while still trying to look like they care, and the only one who has come up with any actual ideas has been me. Me? Yes. The brand new chair who has almost no experience upon which to draw. And everyone seems just a little too happy to tell me why my ideas can't work and not at all willing to actually suggest any of their own or figure out the right labels to apply or boxes to check to make the intent of what I suggested happen.
So yes, today, I'm having fantasies of telling them all to just go stuff it. But I'm not going to, because I'm not going to screw this faculty member. I'll get the deal to happen, even though it is fairly apparent that I have very little actual power because I don't control the right resources. And then I will no doubt trudge on to the next crisis, but there will be some trailing bitterness that will trudge on with me. It didn't have to be this way and, frankly, it was a shitty way to treat a new chair... (another edit here, recommended by a loyal Yesterday supporter).
Friday, July 15, 2011
But then there are moments like those I found tonight where energy and schedule aligned completely unexpectedly and unplanned and the introduction that looked like it was going to have to sit until next week actually gets re-written. I feel a little bit like a kid just learning to ride a bike: "Wheeeeeee, I'm DOING it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
What has made this read particularly fun is the trail of bright blue post-it notes left behind by a previous reader. On the dozen or so notes scattered throughout the book, this reader expressed doubt ("an endowed chair. Hmm."), asked questions ("are we hard-wired to think we're fucking up?"), offered some criticism ("predictably irrational"), rooted for some characters over others ("I agree with Joy."), and just plain reacted ("wow," "laughed out loud"). The note-writer found Russo's portrayal of marriage overly cynical and expressed disapproval that professors would "look down on lowly teachers." Seems like someone young, perhaps?
I resisted paging ahead to find the notes once I recognized the pattern emerging, but now that I am down to the final pages (which I am reluctant to finish since I don't have another pleasure read at hand), I did peek. Sigh. No blue sticky notes commenting on the ending... Did they like it? Did they find it a worthwhile read? Why did they read it? Did they mean to leave the sticky notes on purpose?
And yes, I'm considering adding my own string of comments throughout the book -- some responding to the text, some to the blue sticky note writer. I think it'll be fun.
Friday, July 8, 2011
A couple of years ago, during a particularly productive fall, I was invited to give a talk in Irvine, CA. Accepting that allowed me to tack on a day to do some quick "grab 'n go" research in San Diego, where I'd heard there was a particularly rich collection of local YWCA papers. As has become my habit, I swooped in and spent a furious 5 hours or so scanning everything that seemed remotely interesting. When I got home, the semester was heating up, my cyst flared, and things just generally fell apart for me. In other words, I did even get a chance to file what I had collected, let alone do any sort of analysis.
Fast forward two years, and I finally pulled what I had collected back out and decided to work on one of the major themes in the records: the impact of building, maintaining, and updating a downtown building on a social service/social change organization. This meshed with the work I'd been doing on the Women's Building in San Francisco, so I threw them together into a conference proposal for the Society for American City and Regional Planning History this coming fall. I'm now at work on that paper, particularly the YWCA section.
All through the collections are snippets of notes and a grant proposal for researching the Y's history produced by a particular woman. Obviously an academic of some sort, I finally decided this morning to look her up... only to find that she died just a couple of weeks ago. Her obituary ran just 3 days ago. Is that a little creepy? I've known her name for over two years, but only today did I look her up? And she just died? Hmmm... hard to shake these thoughts as I work through papers she collected and drafts she marked up for editing...
Thursday, July 7, 2011
2. My office is bare and institutional. I didn't do much when I was interim, but it is time to get my brain around the fact that I'll be in this office for three years. Time to get some art and a comfy chair or couch that isn't a scary dust collector.
3. Email makes this job harder. There are usually many vaguely parallel conversations going on over email and rarely are the right people connected to each other. People going off half-cocked, sending poorly-informed messages sent to people all over the campus needs to stop. I'm sure phone calls can do the same kind of damage, but it is on email that I'm seeing it.
4. There are few big decisions to be made. My life is going to be minutiae, it seems.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
The one that is weighing on my mind today (and kept working its way into my dreams last night) involves an important hire. The path is not clear to me and seems even less clear to my committee. Even though I thought I had sorted out an answer/direction, I have to work within the structure of a committee. Thankfully, they are fairly malleable when given clear, um, "suggestions." Apparently, much of what my job is as chair is to make decisions and then run them by the committee for "input." What I have come to realize through working with this committee in particular is that too many open-ended questions allows for crazy answers to emerge. It is actually a lot like parenting, give them (committee, kids) choice, but not endless choices.
"Would you like a peanut butter sandwich or egg salad in your lunch?"
Having figured this out is good, but implementing it consistently is still a challenge. Yesterday, for example, we went straight from the last interview into a discussion of the candidates (scheduling a separate meeting was not workable). This meant I did not have time to strategize on my own and figure out a couple of options to offer them to structure the discussion. And the results of said meeting ranged from unclear to downright distracting/unworkable. Two people kept looping back to a solution that has absolutely been taken off the table by the provost -- she won't do it, but they won't give it up!
In moments like these I'm surprised at the me that emerges. Transparency be damned, I'm maneuvering for an interim solution so that we can leave the table and I can do the real work of figuring out the next step. Then I can come back to them with an appropriate version of peanut butter vs. egg salad for them vote on. Yesterday's temporary solution came from the classic, "why don't you let me write up this and that from our discussion and take it to the provost for her input?" And the sheep said, "bah" (yes). I did send them the write up so they could suggest revisions. They didn't, of course. So off I go to "the smoke-filled back room" to plot and plan with those in power after spending several hours plotting and planning on my own. I feel both a sense of accomplishment and a sense of revulsion.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
I started with Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, but put it aside for a while and read Stephanie Staal's Reading Women. Now I'm back to finishing up RR. They are very different books: one fiction, one a memoir; one published in 1961, one in 2011. The struggles of the women, however, are strikingly similar to each other and to feelings I recognize in myself. Most of it is a sense of loss of personal identity and one that the men connected to the women do not experience. One would hope that Reading Women, especially with the (overly) ambitious subtitle of "how the great books of feminism changed my life," would have some pithy solutions -- or even observations -- but it really doesn't. The message of both books seems to be "it is complicated, there is no right answer, and since you won't really figure it out, the best you can do is to muddle through and try not to be so hard on yourself" (especially in April's case) I suspect there is also supposed to be some message about the role of society in all this, but it is present but surprisingly not active in the stories.
I don't, of course, really need anyone to tell me that life as a 30-something mother is tough. What I have been thinking about is the role of momentum in shaping this experience. Motherhood interrupts the momentum one has developed as an adult and creates its own forces that, once rolling, are hard to check.
Last week, I was trying to explain to a friend that I was thinking it was time to get more engaged with my career. As someone who has recently left corporate world to seek greater validation in other parts of her life, she stared at me with a certain disbelief? surprise? disdain? I think what she heard me saying was that I was going to work more, which is most decidedly not my goal. I just want to use my time differently. I feel like I spend and enormous amount of energy trying to restart work that I have let grow cold, especially research. Deadlines and trips that provide research opportunities force me to frantically try to pull my shit together and while that frenzy results in a decent (though not outstanding) quality and quantity of 'deliverables' I have found myself thinking that if I could just keep plodding along and stay engaged, it would be so much easier and rewarding. To do this, I will have to counter the frantic-ness of academic life during crunch times at the beginning and end of every term and bring some more discipline into my summer work.
From there, it occurred to me that there are some other big and important areas of my life that need a similar treatment. They need better shape and structure. They need to be moving forward and that movement needs to be established well enough that the inevitable forces that crop up and get in the way can't derail the whole project.
"Then the fight went out of control. It quivered their arms and legs and wrenched their faces into shapes of hatred, it urged them harder and deeper into each other's weakest points, showing them cunning ways around each other's strongholds and quick chances to switch tactics, feint, and strike again. In the space of a gasp for breath it sent their memories racing back over the years for old weapons to rip the scabs off old wounds; it went on and on."
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Since I am writing (revising) this week, it got me to thinking: Could I write this article without being able to read what I had written? Could I do it without looking at any notes? I'd be relying only on the pieces/details I had managed to store in my memory...relying on only impressions of how well I had explained this or that point... Yeesh.
Monday, May 2, 2011
There is certainly relief at having classes be finished for the year but my schedule is not really easing up as I look forward into June. The next 4-6 weeks will remain full of work between library director interviews, interviews for the student group I direct, and preparation for the Berks conference. But now highest on the priority list, especially for the next two weeks, will be the girl watching article. My goal? Send off the revised manuscript by May 17 (when the first of the library director candidates should be arriving). Yikes! Better get to it...
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
After the talk, I asked Norsigian to sign the book for E. When E found the book on her bed tonight, she was initially deeply skeptical based on its pink cover (as was I, I must admit). Then I told her the story of how this book came to be and how it has been updated, translated, and disseminated around the world. She got much more interested. I told her that this book was political, that it represented important advocacy work that had drastically changed women's relationship to the health system in this country and was continuing to do that even today. She thanked me for the book -- and really seemed to mean it. I told her that her grandmother had given me an earlier copy of the book many years ago, but this one was hers...and I showed her the inscription. "She signed this for me?" she said excitedly. She loved it.
Then I told her that some of the book would probably not be of much interest to her right now -- like the section on menopause. At the mention of menopause, she told me to leave but I kept going and told her there were other sections that would be much more relevant... just then I leafed past the "teens and birth control" section, which I mentioned might be of more interest. She did not tell me to leave then, but I left anyway. I had said what I wanted to say. And when I peeked in later, she was contentedly curled up on her bed with her dog, reading away.
I was very resistant, feeling that it would all be a bit safer in another year, once I had a book contract firmly in hand -- especially since there is no time pressure for this promotion, unlike coming up for tenure. He made the argument that I could do it now and be making full professor money with full professor privileges for doing the same work I'm doing now. Hmmm...
So, on top of other angst in my life, I threw "what to do with my career" into the mix. I actually pulled out my c.v. on Thursday and spent a long time tweaking the white space and thinking about the work represented there. Then I annotated it, printed it off, and stuck it in the box of my colleague. I challenged him to give me an honest assessment of what I look like on paper. After all, if people like him aren't eager to push my case forward, there is no case. I cannot be my own advocate.
Well, he thought it/I looked solid as is and would be "outstanding" if the "revise and resubmit" I already have from American Quarterly turned into an acceptance, something that could theoretically happen between now and the middle of summer when my materials would be sent out to external reviewers. So now he is taking my c.v. to my other senior colleagues in the discipline. But he is a persuasive guy with five times as much energy as any of the others. I can't really kid myself, if he tells them he wants to put me forward, the others will most likely say yes.
It is just now sinking in for me that the email I sent tonight, giving him the okay to put my c.v. in front of the others, is pretty much equivalent to me doing the formal ask to go forward... In other words, I think I just asked to be promoted -- after having not really thought much about it (or a particular time frame for it) until just this past fall. I've just been plugging away at this and that (which somehow added up to 16 conference presentations since 2004!), publishing things when the right venue appeared, and continuing to work in a very unsystematic way on a sprawling second book. Could that really lead to a promotion? Considering the agony of tenure/assistant professor promotion it is really hard to believe...
Thursday, March 10, 2011
When I contacted a teacher about curriculum in her classes and where my daughter and kids like her (those who are highly motivated in this subject), she accused me of advocating tracking. I'm having a hard time not seeing that as a direct attempt to shut me down. The challenge is, and this is what I've been asking for all along, is how to provide just some -- one or two -- opportunities for my kids to work with a motivated peer group and have the full attention of a teacher, while staying in the 'regular' school. E likes band and art. She has a pretty diverse group of friends. She is at ease in this school. I do value these things but there is no getting around the fact that she is bored and stuck in classrooms that just lump kids together without any regard to ability, motivation, or experience. In these situations, my kid gets A's because she manages to turn in all her work and is quiet. And she knows this. She wants those A's to mean more.
When I was in 5-7th grades, we lived in Virginia in a huge school district that had a much wider range of students than the sheltered world of Midland public schools from which I had come. I was identified as "Gifted and Talented" somehow and experienced three different programs during my time there. One year, there were a handful of days where we were taken out of regular classes to attend a district-wide day of activities. This was lame because I knew no one (I was in elementary school and didn't even know the other kids from my school) and it wasn't a sustained program, just a series of one-offs. The next year, there was a short time in the afternoon once every other week where we were pulled out of class to go work on projects with other kids from around the (large) school. I learned about flow-charts and rudimentary computer programming, we built electrical circuits, and stuff that was cool, but again, there was not rapport with the other students or the revolving adults who lead the projects.
The third model, however, had a significant impact on me. In 7th grade at a gigantic, overflowing school, I spent 4th period in a "special" class with less than 20 other kids. I can still recite poetry I learned in that class. I designed and adminstered my first survey. I learned the mathmatical explanation for "magic" tricks... Projects aside, it was neat, it was special, and I got to know a diverse range of students who made me a better student because they were better students -- and that compensated for the shortcomings of my other classes. There were four teachers for the class, so each quarter we had someone new who was excited to be there because they got to try out kooky projects or teach about their passions to a small, motivated group. I certainly hope it was as rewarding for them as it was for me.
Okay, that was many years, er, decades, ago, but surely there must be some models out there for creating that kind of experience for kids -- even if it is just for 50 minutes a day. And I don't just mean the kids who test well. Why can't we borrow a page from the "free schooling" movement and get kids to pick something that interests them and then get them a peer group and teacher that will encourage them in this?
I tried some of these ideas out on the principal of the middle school and got nowhere (E calls her "weak-minded") so now I'm laying this challenge in front of the school board and the district adminstration today. We'll see. In the meantime, I still need to figure out if I should cut my losses with this school and jump through the hoops to move E straight to 9th grade (at the ripe old age of 12 1/2)...
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
I'm a pretty firm believer in public education and I put my kids where my mouth is. The problem is, as I said, the current crunch that can only get worse before it gets better is going to fuck things up for my kids. While the system is dissolving into crisis (where something like 60% of the districts in the state are in serious debt), my kids are in 3rd and 7th grade. Even if we fix the funding system and rework districts, pedagogies, and institutions within 5 years, we've screwed the kids who are currently in the system. Consequently, I think it is totally acceptable to run up huge amounts of debt to improve things in the short term while we work on those longer term solutions. The governor does not agree. He (a multi-millionaire) is taking a $1 annual salary from the state, which he seems to think justifies a budget that reduces K-12 funding approximately $800/student. That's his idea of sharing the burdens of our poor economy. I have my anger as a 'community member' pretty well sorted out, even if I have not yet found the right channel into which I can direct that anger.
My other role, however, is as 'parent' and that has me rolling around with much less direction. Our school system needs to do more to hang on to the bright kids. I am deeply concerned about what happens to the culture of the school when the motivated kids with motivated parents pull out because the short term prognosis is so grim. But, having just received more reports about E's stunningly good scores on the big standardized tests and looked at the unimaginative curriculum and overstuffed classrooms of her school, I have to wonder if I'm sacrificing her opportunities in the interest of my larger political beliefs. This is somewhat more pressing with this kid because she is rather Lisa Simpson-like. She likes to excel within the structure of school. She figures out exactly what she needs to do (no more) and does it and then basks in the good grades. Getting her to do extra "just to learn" or "for her own good" doesn't hold much appeal for her. She'd rather read fantasy novels.
So...tomorrow I'm meeting with her principal and the academic counselor at her middle school to hear what they have to say about all this. I'm going to ask them to give us -- and the others like us -- a reason to stay. Frankly, I'm not expecting much. The elementary schools are pretty good, but once kids hit puberty, the schools become obsessed with behavior (which is often times what is being graded) and all energy seems to shift to those who are academically or behaviorally at the bottom. When it comes to kids 12 and over, the district has been in a race to the bottom.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The 'magic moment' is probably coming to an end, however. I've had a good run with FB, but now more and more of my extended family are finding me there. I've also had close encounters will students who know people I know. I'd prefer to keep FB confined to people with whom I have to censor little in my life, but unless I go more deeply underground (a la Dickish McBastard), this can't last and the idea of managing everyone with lists and settings that seem to get changed periodically by the powers that be at FB holds no interest for me. Ah well, for now cousins will just have to languish unacknowledged in my "friend request" folder while I milk this for a bit longer. I'm just not ready to give it up.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Cool as a cucumber, E set off to take the ACT this morning. I don't remember freaking out about these big standardized tests, but I do remember feeling like I should manifest some serious anxiety and that was a form of anxiety in and of itself. Apparently my demons have not been transmitted to the girl. Her attitude? "Eh, I've done these before." Such an awesome kid.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Here is what I've learned:
1. a day in the middle of the week is probably the BEST day to stay off email. Most of my colleagues teach on Thursdays and are therefore quite busy. They seem to assume that if I don't answer it is because I am similarly busy (I think) -- only I don't teach on Thursday (delicious, delicious Thursdays!). Friday or Monday we have the (fiction of the) weekend and people are twitchy about getting answers before people "go away" for the weekend (altho many don't go away...see point number 3 below). I can always mop up whatever crisis has exploded on Friday morning and not leave anyone hanging as we head into the weekend.
2. I have to prepare. I have to go into my email on Wed night and pull out whatever I need for the work I have planned for Thursday. This means I have a chance to answer late-in-the-day emails and I HAVE to plan my Thursday. Guilt and control freak tendencies go down and productivity goes up.
3. I want more. I want no email weekends. What I am learning, however is that my colleagues have pretty much lost all sense of boundaries. One of them sent an email asking for a discipline vote on something at 8pm on Friday and then was back on line early Saturday afternoon complaining that only one person had weighed in. (I saw all of these on Saturday evening but was so annoyed by it I waited to answer until Sunday night -- should have waited 'til Monday!))
This job is already severely lacking in boundaries as anyone who has ever gone anywhere with me and knows that I carry a book (or three) with me pretty much constantly knows. Why can't we have weekends? I'm not going to pretend that I don't work on weekends. I do. But at least let me stick to doing the reading and grading that is necessary and keep the piddly requests and political crap for a weekday? And then there are the students... I'm thinking email allows us just way too much access to each other and that we all need to retreat to our separate corners. Email, for example, allowed me to learn that a student in my methods class only today found the instructions for the paper that is due tomorrow. Really, do I need to know that my students take my assignments so seriously that they only start them the night before? No, I don't. I'm sure they do this. I'm just sayin' that I don't want to know!
Anyway, the upshot is that no-email Thursdays are pretty damn awesome and I intend to keep them up and look for ways to further limit the noise and improve my focus.